There has been some speculation since The Muppets debuted to ok, but not outstanding numbers on ABC that the new comedy might be getting some tweaks and maybe an overhaul moving forward, but few may have foreseen that would include executive producer Bob Kushell (The Simpsons) leaving the production.
Last spring, Kushell teamed up with Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory) to revive The Muppets after it was fast-tracked following its well-received presentation reel. But Variety reports that co-showrunners Kushell and Prady were creatively clashing over the direction of the series, leaving Kushell to now bow out. (Some of that uncertainty of direction might already be on display in the The Muppets itself, and its split personality, as far as what works, and what clearly doesn’t).
Currently, there is not a replacement being named, although there are rumors that producer Kristin Newman (Galavant) could be stepping in. Last week, ABC gave The Muppets an additional order of 3 episodes, for a total of 16 (bringing it to a full season). The Muppets as a property and a brand is far too lucrative for ABC to let it sink away, so the studio will likely be looking at how to keep it afloat both in the ratings and creatively, although Kushell leaving is potentially not a great sign.
Personally, I’ve had some mixed reactions to the show since its debut. Though the first few episodes made me hopeful, its mockumentary style is increasingly stale and unfunny, and the show is not half as weird as it should be. Miss Piggy has been portrayed as far too shrill, and the balance of characters has felt off. And yet, the pull of Muppet nostalgia keeps me watching, and hoping that things may improve. We’ll see where things go from here.
The Muppets airs Tuesday nights on ABC.